Sanskrit Saison with buckwheat, golden raisins, ginger and green cardamom - Brain Sparging on Brewing


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June 9, 2015

Sanskrit Saison with buckwheat, golden raisins, ginger and green cardamom

There was a time, shortly after I started brewing, where it seemed like all saison recipes had spices in them and more than likely the spices were coriander and orange peel like some misunderstood witbier. Then there was a wholesale rejection of the idea of using spices in saisons and with the return of popularity of saison/farmhouse/whatever the acceptability of spicing saison has returned. It's been a while since I have used any spices in my saisons; not because I oppose their use but because I just haven't felt the need in a long time. Over the past few months I have been mulling over the idea of taking a stab at playing with some spices in a saison and a trip to a local Indian grocer gave me the inspiration to go for it.

There's a small Indian grocery store close to my office owned by a couple who have run the store for a long time. They stock all sorts of spices and regional ingredients. They also have a halal butcher, which is the only place one can find good goat meat in the area. I guess if you follow halal then it's the only place to find any good meat in the area. Everything is incredibly cheap there and I have a pantry stuffed full of spices acquired there. I thought it would be interesting to spice a saison out of ingredients available at this shop.

My immediate thought was to scrap any spice combination that would resemble the chai masala spice blend commonly used in beer. I don't mind chai masala but I would rather select spices that will work with the dryness of saison and the citrus/fruit/spice/earthy character of the yeast. I also decided to avoid anything too gimmicky that would make for a beer with a reasonably probability of getting dumped, such as curry powder or curry leaves.

In the end I opted for:

  • Unmalted white wheat from Ukraine: I like adding wheat to saisons for some body and the store sold wheat so I thought it made sense to pick some up.
  • Buckwheat from Russia: I thought this was an interesting ingredient that would add some nutty and earthy notes to the yeast phenolics.
  • Ginger: Ginger is a basic ingredient in many Indian dishes and also has a long history of use in saisons so it was an easy starting point for spicing the saison. The spicy/sweet flavor works really well with citrus, which is perfect for the lemony notes of 3711.
  • Golden raisins: Golden raisins have a nice subtle honey flavor that also plays really well in saisons. I've seen plenty of commentary that raisins are easily overdone so they will go into the beer with serious restraint.
  • Green cardamom: Cardamom works well with almost anything as long as it is used in moderation. It's herbal, citrusy and slightly floral. That's all perfect to integrate into a saison. 
The combination of ingredients isn't terribly exotic but my goal is to brew a saison I'll enjoy drinking with subtle spicing effects rather than get bowled over by spices. If I like this beer then maybe I'll try my hand at a winter beer with other spices from the shop like cassia, star anise, mace and so forth.

Sanskrit Saison with wheat, buckwheat, ginger, golden raisins and green cardamom

Batch size: 3 gallons
Est. OG: 1.053
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. ABV: 5.7%
Est. IBU: 25
Est. SRM: 3.3

Grain Bill

83.3% 5 lb. German pils malt (2 SRM)
12.5% 12 oz. White wheat malt (1.7 SRM)
4.2% 4 oz. Buckwheat (2 SRM)

Mash & Sparge

Decoction mash
Infuse 12 qt at 156F for 146F rest for 40 minutes
Decoct 3 qt and boil for 160F rest for 30 minutes
Sparge with 2.68 gal of water at 180F

Water Profile: Bru'n Water Yellow Bitter

Ca: 52
Mg: 10
Na: 5
SO4: 115
Cl: 46
Bicarbonate: -92
PH: 5.3

Mash Additions

Gypsum 1.5g
Epsom salt 1.2g
Canning salt 0.2g
Calcium chloride 0.9g
Lactic acid 1.5ml

Sparge Additions

Gypsum 1.3g
Epsom salt 1.1g
Canning salt 0.1g
Calcium chloride 0.8g

Boil Schedule

90 minutes

0.30 oz. Belma [12.10%] at 90 min 21 IBU
0.10 oz. Belma [12.10%] at 20 min 4 IBU
12g golden raisins, chopped at 10 min 0 IBU
0.7g ginger at flameout
4g green cardamom at flameout


Ferment with 100ml slurry of 3711 at 78F

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 5/31/15.

First runnings: 1.066
Pre-boil gravity: 1.041
Pre-boil volume: 5.1 gal
Mash efficiency: 91.7%

Post boil gravity: 1.055
Post boil volume: 3.5 gal
Efficiency: 86.6%

Gravity check 6/10/15: 1.008
Cardamom flavor is dominant. Complex and interesting but the cardamom probably needs some time to age out.

Bottled 6/14/15. Cardamom assertive but already mellowing out. Racked one gallon to jug and added Oud Beersel dregs.

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